As technology advances in complexity and scope, fear becomes more primitive.

– Don DeLillo

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Artwork by Michael Parkin

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery
 

Welcome to Issue 30!

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I just came across another list of ethical alternatives for our daily digital tools. It’s great to see that more and more people are now talking about ethics in our industry. I agree with Aral Balkan (I interviewed him in issue 18, one of my personal favourites) who predicted that Big Data companies will slowly turn into Big Tabacco and Big Oil. It’ll get increasingly more difficult (i.e. more expensive) for them to retain talent and maintain that image as a desirable employer.

Now we need to carry that message to people outside of our industry, too. As a mate of mine recently pointed out: a lot of non-tech brands, such as an ethical clothing manufacturer, are not necessarily aware that embedding certain tracking codes in their website or spending money on Instagram ad campaigns goes against their otherwise strong ethical principles. I’m not sure if we can expect every company to know what code snippet or digital service is considered ethically questionable. All we can do for now is lead by example and keep talking about the problem of big data. – Kai

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Why visit Uenoland?

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Uenoland is a ‘conference’ for people who like to get inspired about life and creativity. Two and a half days with 16 wonderful speakers and performers: May-Li Khoe, joyful subverter of status quo; David Rees, artisanal pencil sharpener; Graham McDonell, NYT’s Int’l Creative Director; Carlye Wisel, theme park journalist; and 12 others! Join us in Brooklyn on May 2 – 4, because life is short and we’ll all be dead soon. Get your ticket to Uenoland 

 

Apps & Sites

Figgle →

Bookmark your favourite content across apps

iOS app Figgle is a mix of a bookmarking app and a reading list, creating one place to store your favourite content from all major social networks: photos, videos, gifs, websites, articles, notes, music, files, and more. Figgle also acts as a network itself, allowing you to follow other people’s content stream.

Cardhop →

A better contacts app for Mac

Cardhop’s most powerful feature is its natural language input field that lets you quickly search, add, edit, and interact with your contact list. Sounds like a contacts app I’d actually use.

Nolt →

Collect & manage feature requests

Nolt is a place for your users to add and vote on feature requests and for service providers to share their product roadmap. Integration with Jira, Trello, Slack, and others is also possible.

D&I Guidebook →

Diversity and inclusion guidelines

There can’t be a universal rulebook for making workplaces more inclusive, but this guide by Bakken & Bæck is a great step in the right direction: “A living document in which we can come to a mutual agreement on the language, concepts and values of diversity and inclusion across the company.”

 

Idle Knowledge

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Icon by Arafat Uddin

The animated history of the GIF

The GIF goes back 32 years when CompuServe developer Steve Whilhite came up with original compression algorithm behind the Graphics Interchange Format. (By the way, in 2013 Whilhite reiterated that he pronounces his creation with a soft ‘G’.) The patent of the underlying algorithm was eventually owned by a company called Unisys Corp which in 1995 tried to charge software companies a royalty fee for using the GIF format. This led to widespread protest among developers (a ‘Burn All GIFs’ day was held on Nov 5, 1999) and to the creation of an alternative file format: PNG, at one point named PING for ‘Ping Is Not Gif’. (Source)

 

Goods & Accessories

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The Best Interface is No Interface →

A call to end our slavery to screens

Can we live in a tech-driven world without the screens? “In this book, innovator Golden Krishna challenges our world of nagging, screen-based bondage, and shows how we can build a technologically advanced world without digital interfaces.”

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FixIts →

Mouldable eco-plastic fixing sticks

Got a frayed cable or a broken handle? FixIts can help you repair it: simply soften the eco-plastic in hot water, then mould it around the surface. FixIts are reusable and at the end of their lifespan compostable.

 

Overheard on Twitter

Social media is the high fructose corn syrup of life.

@countbassd

 

Food For Thought

Silicon Valley isn’t just a technostate – it’s something much bigger →

Read

Tech companies are on their way to shape (or replace?) essential citizen services: “We are faced with a remarkable situation in which a conglomeration of private companies both own a significant part of modern social infrastructure, but are also lobbying to extend that power into other spheres: urbanism, education, governance and more.”

Why we need to reinvent democracy for the long-term →

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Are we due for a democratic revolution? “The time has come to face an inconvenient reality: that modern democracy – especially in wealthy countries – has enabled us to colonise the future. We treat the future like a distant colonial outpost devoid of people, where we can freely dump ecological degradation, technological risk, nuclear waste and public debt, and that we feel at liberty to plunder as we please.”

Smartphone society →

Read

Remember The Big Picture? This is a thought-provoking photo series showing how ubiquitous our smartphones have become around the world.

 

Aesthetically Pleasing

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Street artist KAWS created a massive inflatable sculpture floating in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour.

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Ragged Edge developed a lively brand for hotel chain Assembly, built around a bespoke typeface.

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Aeonik positions itself as a neo-Grotesk with a geometric skeleton; available in seven broad weights with several alternate characters.

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Motion designer Oscar Pettersson creates fascinating looping 3D animations.

 

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The Week in a GIF

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Email us the URL to your favourite GIF and we might feature it here in a future issue.

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